Adventures of the The Nametagged Nurses and Their Magical Drugs

Thanks to the good people at NBC who continue to push back my Today Show appearance; I’ve been experiencing some minor stomach issues.

And by “minor” I mean “chronic pain everyday for three months.”

So this week I went into Barnes Jewish Hospital for a minor procedure. First, a nurse prepped me with an IV and connected me to various beeping boxes. When she saw my tattoo under my gown she looked at me like a scolding mother and said, “Scott, now why in the world do you have your name tattooed on your chest?!”

“Well, nametags make people friendlier.” I replied.

She laughed. Like, really hard. So hard that she probably thought I belonged in the Psychiatric Ward on the 7th floor! But when she asked about my job, I explained the entire nametag-books-speaking story.

Then she laughed even harder.

Just then another nurse came in and said, “No, wait! Scott, didn’t you speak at my daughter’s middle school a few months ago?”

“Oh…yeah. Rockwood South. That was me,” I sighed.

And just when I thought my level of embarrassment couldn’t soar any higher, three more nurses walked in – all of whom were wearing adhesive nametags! I tried to make out the letters. “Uh… Debbie … Claudia … Jan … how’s it going?” I said.

“Pretty good Scott! We heard all about you from Dr. Edmundowicz. He instructed us to wear nametags during your procedure.”

“Heh heh, good one Doc. Thanks for that. You don’t know how great that makes me feel.” I said. “Now…can I have some drugs so we can get this god-awful procedure over with?”

And before I could say “Goodbye, my name is…” I felt this strange sensation on the underside of my palm…and BAM! Oooooooh….I was gone. God it was beautiful. I woke up about an hour later feeling like a million bucks to discover the nametag-clad nurses and my Doc standing over me.

Thankfully the tests didn’t show anything serious – just stress. And for someone who HATES going to the hospital (doesn’t everybody?) it was truly wonderful to have such great people – who even wore extra nametags – taking care of me.

Ultimately the lesson is: even if it means bending the rules, do whatever it takes to make your guests feel comfortable.

So, thanks BJC. Thanks a lot.

Oh, and just send my bill to Katie Couric.


How friendly was your last hospital visit?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Consistency Is Far Greater Than Rare Moments of Greatness

You just never know.

When you answer a phone call from an unknown number…When you engage in a conversation with a guest at your office…When you greet a potential customer who walks into your store…When you make small talk with a stranger you’ve just been introduced to…When you respond to a random email from a friend of a friend of a friend…

You just never know.

And because of that, because any of these individuals has the potential to immediately tell everyone he knows either “That guy’s great!” or “That guy’s an asshole!” you must remember that consistency is far greater than rare moments of greatness.

This means you have a choice. You can be a nice, friendly, approachable, authentic, easy-to-deal-with person ONLY around those “important” people, i.e., customers, coworkers and managers; or you can act that way with EVERYBODY, notwithstanding their apparent insignificance. It brings to mind the words of Roy Beers, who once said, “Your true character is most accurately measured by how you treat those who can do nothing for you.”

Great example: I do a lot of staff training for hotels, namely, Hyatt Regency. One Friday night after hosting an afternoon session, I bumped into a few of my audience members at a nearby bar. (I didn’t know who they were at the time.) But literally, we smacked into each other! And I spilled half of my drink on the floor. I looked up at the three guys and said, “No worries guys – this place is a madhouse. It’s just water anyway.”

One of them said, “Sorry about that Scott. Hey, by the way, we really loved your speech on approachability today! Thanks a lot.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize you guys worked for the Hyatt! Yeah, sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet after the session. But I’m glad you enjoyed it. And it sure is funny running into you now, huh?”

Yeah, funny.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever realized who the person was 20 seconds AFTER you’d made your impression?

It’s kind of scary. Kind of makes you think back and wonder, “Wait, what did I say again? Was it something stupid? And would I have said something different if I knew exactly who I was talking to?”

That’s the big question. That’s where consistency comes in to play. Because odds are, you might not know right away if the person you’re talking to is stranger you’ll never see again, an existing customer, a potential customer, or a friend of an existing or potential customer.

And all it takes is one sentence to make him think, “You know, I think I’ll take my business elsewhere.” Then again, all it takes is one sentence to make him think, “Man, I love this place! I can’t wait to tell everyone back at the office all about it!”

Because you just never know.

And yet, some people still don’t understand the power of this idea. Probably because they’ve never had a business-changing encounter – positive or negative – that swiveled on the hinges of serendipity.

But they will. And so will you. Both bad and good. Hey, I once started a friendly conversation on a bus with a complete stranger who eventually passed along my business card to a local reporter whose news story kicked off my career as an author and a speaker! Then again, I once made a terribly rude comment about my former boss without knowing he was a customer of my father’s! Ouch!

So whether you’re prospecting, greeting guests or just making small talk around the office, remember this: it’s just easier to be consistent. Kind of like the old adage, “If you tell the truth all the time, you won’t have to remember anything.” Because ultimately, consistently is greater than rare moments of greatness. And people only give you credit for that which they see you do consistently.

Because you just never know.


What’s your best (or worst) “you never know” story?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

HELLO, my name is Podcast – Episode 3: The Sweetest Sound in the World

So far this week, there’s been a lot of buzz about WOMMA’s Basic Training Conference; which makes sense since they’re the Word of Mouth Marketing Association! But while I attended (and spoke at) the event, my mind kept returning to an idea that I knew I wanted to come back and address: names.

Of course, each person attending the event wore a nametag. Some people wore two. (And I sported my usual 3, including the tattoo.) But still, you couldn’t remember everyone’s name because, as Sigmund Freud explained in his basic writings, “A person’s name is the single context of human memory most apt to be forgotten.”

A few people throughout the conference asked me how I remember names so well. And honestly, I have no idea. I guess there’s just pressure to reciprocate since everyone already knows my name!

Still, there are lots of great articles and resources on name-remembering out there. And in today’s episode of HELLO, my name is Podcast, you’ll hear some tips and techniques on how to do so; in addition to a few examples from the WOMMA conference on the connection between names and approachability.

(If you haven’t subscribed to HELLO, my name is Podcast yet, you can do so here. To listen to Episodes 1 & 2, click here.)


What’s your best name-remembering technique?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

I didn’t know Dana Carvey worked at Disneyworld!

Halfway through the WOMMA Basic Training Conference I received a strange voicemail on my cell from a (407) area code. Hmmm. Must be someone in Orlando, I figured. The reception was fuzzy and choppy, so this was all I heard:

“Scott… name … Eddie Crandall … WOMMMA …. African … nametag …Dana Carvey… call back … meet in person …”

What the hell?!

I called the number back. “Yeah, um…is Eddie there?”

“Scott?! Hey thanks for calling back!”

“Hi. Um, can you remind me who you are?! I couldn’t make out your message.”

“Yeah, sorry about that. My name’s Eddie Crandall. I’m a cast member at Disney. I met a bunch of your friends from WOMMA last night at dinner. Anyway, when I went to the WOMMA homepage to learn more about your conference, I found your information and thought your nametag idea was really cool! And I was wondering if I could meet you in person.

“Oh. Yeah, sure. Come on over. I’m just chillin with some friends on the beach in one of these hammocks.”

“Ok cool! I’ll be right over.”

Not sure if it was a crank call, I put my phone away and rejoined my group at the beach. And as irony would have it, my friend Sean Murphy from Customink was telling a story about the Dana Carvey impersonator he’d met the night before.

“Wait, Sean, are you serious? Because I just got a phone call from some guy named Eddie who actually DOES Dany Carvey impersonations…and he’s coming over here right now!”

“No way!”

Sure enough, we turned around to see a Disney Cast Member wearing this nametag. And he looked EXACTLY like Dana Carvey!

Eddie introduced himself to me, and to Liz and Lisa from Edelman. Then he walked over to Sean and said, “Hey, I remember meeting you last night…”

“…Sean, right?” Eddie asked, “you’re the t-shirt guy!”

“Yeah, that’s me!”

Word. Nice job being that guy Sean.

Anyway, Dana (Eddie) told us his backstory. Quick summary: he first watched SNL years ago, noticing his strong resemblance to Dana Carvey. Then people began to notice the same thing. He eventually saw Dana in concert and got backstage passes because someone in security thought he WAS Dana, then met the real actor in person and got a pic and a signed DVD which read, “You look just like me! Love, Dana.”

When Eddie started working for Disney, fellow cast members told him he should start doing Dana Carvey impressions. (Which is kind of funny it and of itself: a guy doing impressions of a guy doing impressions. Ha!) But Eddie’s sister, Dana, who also worked for Disney, gave him her nametag. He now wears it as his Cast Member ID and has a blast entertaining guests at the resort on a daily basis.

When we all said goodbye, Dana (Eddie) whipped out a bunch of papers from his pocket. Apparently he’d printed out a bunch of screens from my website, namely the Approachability Map. “This is so cool Scott! Approachability is very important for Cast Members at Disney. I guess the whole Dana Carvey thing is like my front porch!

Well isn’t that speeeecial?


How do you build a front porch to your front line?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Highlights from the 2006 WOMMA Basic Training Conference

It’s the Monday after WOMMA’s first annual Basic Training Conference in Disneyworld. I think I’m still recovering. But, that only means it was a great weekend! Andy Sernovitz and his team did an awesome job. So for those of you who missed out, here’s a brief overview:

I always seem to make a friend on the plane…
“Group 3, you are now ready to board.” That’s me! I walked up to the line filled with excitement as the WOMMA conference drew closer. The woman next to me noticed my nametag and asked, “So Scott…do you have a memory problem or something?”

“Nah, I just wear it to make people friendlier and more approachable.”

“Really? Huh. That’s a good idea. You know, my college roommate wrote her thesis on that.”

“No kidding! Are you serious? Wow. Well, look – I wear a nametag 24-7. Have been for 6 years. I write books and gives speeches about approachability – I need to meet your friend!”

Amy promised to pass along my information to her friend. And we hit it off right away! She was a rep for Trimline Medical Products. We spent a few minutes chattin’ it up on the plane about our respective jobs. I gave her both books and we exchanged cards. (This chance encounter would come full circle a few days later. Read on to find out…)

Beware of the Turf People…
Our conference was held at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort alongside of the Sports Turf Managers Association. These guys were SO cool. And talk about an odd juxtaposition of businesspeople! Marketers vs. turf managers. Grass vs. word of mouth. The Sports Section vs. blogs. This is my new friend Kevin Gordon from Hunter aka “The Irrigation Innovators.” I met him waiting in line as the shuttle staff directed us to our busses with giant white Mickey Mouse (or maybe it was Michael Jackson) gloves. That certainly led to some interesting conversations at the bar! Because Turf People are good people.

I’ve read your books and blogs, so it’s nice to meet you in person…
This conference was attended by some of the world’s most notable marketing minds. And after reading about these people on the internet for so many years, it’s nice to finally meet them in person! Some of my favorite marketing experts included, but were not limited to George Silverman, Steve Rubel, Diane Darling, and of course Brand Autopsy’s John Moore.

The funniest speech moment of my entire career thus far…
During my keynote on Thursday, I asked various audiences members which word they owned. A woman raised her hand and said, “Scott, I’m not sure you want to hear my word.”

“That’s ok, go right ahead!” I encouraged.


“Dickless?! I replied.

I’ve never heard 500 people laugh harder in my life. Then, I’ve never heard 500 people get quieter in my life. So I stood there aghast and completely thrown off by her comment, trying to decide whether or not I should say something clever or just let it go.

“Moving on…” I said. Probably a good idea.

It became one of those conference moments everyone talked about. And we later learned that Dick*less Marketing means exactly what you think it means. Marketing to women. (Were you thinking it meant something else?) Special thanks to Yvonne Divita for that one. Damn it was funny. You can’t rehearse that stuff.

And the award for best program goes to…
Tough call. Lotta good speakers. But here are my top three.

1) Customer Evangelist Jackie Huba hosted, hands down, the best workshop of the entire program. She talked about the various elements of creating customer evangelists mixed with an interactive workshop/question and answer period that lasted for two hours. We couldn’t get enough! Not to mention, I picked up a signed copy of her book on CD. Score!

2) We heard from humor anthropologist Bob Mankoff from The Cartoon Bank, a division of The New Yorker Magazine and the world’s leading licensor of magazine-style cartoons. His speech about humor was unbelievable. And funny, obviously. I also spent some time talking with him before the program. And I’ve decided he is the coolest, funniest, most interesting and intriguing person I’ve ever met. He also shared his favorite joke, “You know Scott, I want to die peacefully like my Grandfather…not kicking and screaming like his passengers.” Nice.

3) Although his session was small, short and sweet, Greg Stielstram, author of PyroMarketing blew the audience away. As the former marketing director for The Purpose Driven Life – which sold 18 million copies in 18 months – Greg talked about how to make your book a best seller via word of mouth marketing. And as a speaker, let me describe Greg’s delivery in the following way: “Like Bob Costas delivering a sermon on marketing.”

Other cool moments included…
*Sitting with Geoff Ramsey on the buss on the way to our “African Feast.”

*Eating the best club sandwich of my life at 11 PM while rehearsing for my speech. Seriously. We’re talking 14 pieces of bacon. Mmmm….

*Departing the hotel at 6 AM after NOT sleeping, driving an hour in the dark to the WB Studio in Lake Mary so I could do a 3 minute interview on The Daily Buzz, then driving back another hour so I could return in time to finish the conference. God I hope somebody actually saw that interview.

But my favorite part of the weekend was…
Coming back to St. Louis on Friday night and running into Amy, the women I’d met on the plane three days earlier whose friend wrote the thesis on wearing nametags.

“Scott, you look like you need some sleep!”

“Yeah, it was a long weekend. WOMMA sure knows how to put on a show!”

“How did your speech go?”

“Excellent. We had a great discussion and program about spreading word of mouth.”

“Well in that case, here’s a perfect story for ya,” Amy said. “I finished your book on the plane. When I got to my meeting on Thursday, I whipped it out and suggested people take your advice on making your brand more approachable. Then some guy in the board room said, ‘I know that guy!'”



How do you get people to talk about your stuff?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Read Scott’s feature article in the Associated Press!

ASAP is AP’s new multimedia service featuring original content designed to appeal to under-35-year-old readers, a coveted but elusive audience, and to connect with them – on their terms.

(Click the article’s banner to see a high quality version. It’s an awesome graphic by P. Hamline – too bad it’s no longer available on asap’s site!) And check out the eagerly anticipated feature called Hi my name is…written all over my chest, by Matt Sedensky. You can view shocking tattoo pics such as:

…and even listen to some great audio clips from the interview!

This article just went online TODAY, so keep your eyes on your local paper and see if they pick it up in print!


Isn’t the AP wonderful?!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Nice to meet you! I’ve heard a lot about you…

This comment tends to make people feel uncomfortable. Or curious. Or suspicious. Because when you’re introduced to someone new and he or she says, “Oh I’ve heard a lot about you…” you’re probably thinking to yourself: What does this stranger know about me? Is she just saying that to be polite? If not, how did she find these things out? Did Steve tell her? And if he did, was it the bad stuff? Should I go home and get rid of the bodies underneath the house?!

But most people respond with one of the following answers:

  • “Oh, well…I hope only good things!”
  • “Nothing bad, right?”
  • “Thanks…I think?!”

    …and the like.

    This brings up some interesting points about conversation. First of all, should you even make this comment when being introduced to someone new?

    Well, I guess it depends on what you heard. But not unlike the question So, what do YOU do…? this comment just seems to be the logical thing to say when meeting someone new (if you’ve heard about him before.) So maybe there’s no way around it.

    In which case, maybe this is your opportunity to have a little fun in the conversation. Lord knows we need more of that. After all, “I’ve heard a lot about you” is such a cliche, you can pretty much say whatever you want in response without worrying about conversational consequences. Here are some suggestions:

    STRANGER: “I’ve heard a lot about you…”
    YOU: “Oh no! Don’t believe the lies!!!!”

    STRANGER: “I’ve heard a lot about you…”
    YOU: “It’s all true.”

    STRANGER: “I’ve heard a lot about you…”
    YOU: “I swear that guy was already dead when I got there.”


    How do you respond when people say “I’ve heard a lot about you…”?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

  • If I were a single, shy guy, this is what I’d want to hear

    Today I read the following advice column in the Miami Herald by Dr. Andrea Corn called 30-something guy chases women – away:

    Q: I don’t have a problem interacting with the opposite sex where I work. However, in social settings my friends tell me women think I’m unapproachable. What advice can you offer this 30-something male?

    A: Smiling, making eye contact and sounding warm and engaging all demonstrate interest and enthusiasm that is attractive and appealing to women. Studies have shown initial impressions can be formed automatically, long before one’s core personality traits are actually known. Women may be misinterpreting your signals as disinterest.

    Besides becoming more aware of how you present yourself, what is likely to have a bigger impact is minimizing your negative thinking. Being introverted doesn’t have to be a social liability, but self-doubts could be holding you back more than you realize. You could be pre-empting interactions by unintentionally appearing unapproachable.

    Try turning your focus to what is in your control, which would be to develop your communication skills and bring out your strengths and personal interests. By trusting yourself you can alleviate your inhibitions and make a constructive change in your social life for 2006.

    * * * *

    OK. Her response was extremely intelligent, well thought out and, since she is a licensed psychologist, quite scientific and deep. However, it lacked specific, simple techniques that this shy guy needs to use immediately (tomorrow at happy hour, for example) to increase approachability with women. As a guy myself, here’s what I would have liked to hear:

  • As soon as you walk into the door of restaurant, bar, gym, etc., smile for the first 10 seconds. Most people (women AND men) check out each person as they walk in. This immediately says to them, “He looks fun, approachable and cool.” They’ll remember this when you walk past them later.
  • Be super friendly, funny and talkative to servers, bartenders and especially other men. The most effective way to qualify your approachability with women is to let them see you engaging with other people first. Remember, a person who is not nice to a waitress is not a nice person.
  • Ask engaging questions that start with, “What was the best…” and “What’s your favorite…” so you can discover the CPI, or “Common Point of Interest” as soon as possible.
  • Just have fun. Don’t be so goal oriented. Be playful. Acting laid-back and cavalier = increased confidence = increased approachability = increased attractiveness.


    What advice would you offer to this shy guy?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

  • St. Louis Career Academy Adopts Scott’s New Ebook!

    What pieces of advice would you impart on the next generation of business people? Just ask my good friend Chris, aka “Mr. Drury.” He teaches at the Clyde C. Miller Career Academy in St. Louis.

    After downloading a copy of my latest free ebook, 66 Priceless Pieces of Business Advice I Couldn’t Live Without, he decided to get creative with the images and post them all around his classroom!

    Some of the students pictured include LaShawna, Chris, Alexis, Briana, Jasmine, Yolanda, Bridgette, Cecilia, and Annis. (Click on the pictures to see a larger image.)


    What advice would you impart on the next generation of business people?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

    If there was ever a story to convince people that wearing a nametag 24-7 is not a good idea, this would be it

    His name was Steffan. He was a 55 year old recovering-alcoholic-mechanic who had an abusive childhood and suffered from Social Anxiety Disorder.

    I only know these things about Steffan because he was a complete stranger who called my cell phone in the middle of the night on December 30th, 2002 and TOLD ME.

    And that’s how he became my first stalker.

    “Um…yeah…I read that article from the Portland Tribue about your nametag idea…I think it’s…um…r-r-really great,” said the creepy voice on the line.

    “Oh…thanks,” I said as I stumbled around my dark room. I was home for the holidays at my parents’ house in St. Louis.

    “Yeah, you know, I’ve always been…well, afraid to talk to people. Especially since I was young. I come from a pretty…uh…’rough’ past, if you know what I mean.”

    I didn’t know what he meant. I didn’t want to know what he meant. But he just kept talking.

    “Oh, I see,” I replied, “yeah that sounds pretty rough. I couldn’t imagine.” I was still half asleep. The clock told me it was 12:47 AM.

    Steffan continued to ramble about his fear of talking to strangers, an abusive/alcoholic father, and how my article about making people friendlier was an inspiration.

    “Well, I just wanted to…uh…say thanks. I think what you’re doing is a good thing.”

    “Yeah…well uh, no problem. You’re welcome. Hope you have a Happy New Year,” I said as I crawled back into bed.

    “I hope so too. See you around Portland, Scott.”


    Holy shit.

    Three dozen Ambien couldn’t have put me to back sleep after that phone call. God almighty! Who was this guy? Was he crazy? Just a fan? Or would he be waiting at my apartment when I returned to Oregon a few days later with an ice pick?!

    Eventually I made it through the night. I didn’t tell ANYBODY. And when I returned to Oregon a few days later, he wasn’t waiting for me. However, there were three messages waiting on my machine:

    “Hey Scott, it’s Steffan. Just uh…wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I’m not gay or anything. I just like what you do. You can call if you want, if not, that’s ok.”

    “Hey Scott, it’s uh…Steffan again. Hope you’re doing well. Thought I might catch you at home today, but, uh…looks like I missed you. Oh well.”

    “Hey there Scott. I don’t want you to think I’m crazy or gay or anything, but I just wanted you to know that I loved reading that article again. You’re doing a great thing. If you want I can drop off a few extra copies for you.”

    Oh – my – God.

    Fearing for my life, I hopped onto Google and typed in serial killer personality. Sure enough, I learned that most serial killers were middle aged white males with alcoholic or abusive pasts.

    Perfect. That was him. I was dead.

    Steffan continued to call me every day for the next two weeks. And every time the caller ID read, “Portland Mechanics,” a chill ran down my spine. I never picked up the line. I figured if I ignored him, he’d go away.

    But he didn’t. And a few weeks later, he showed up at my work.

    At the time I sold furniture at a downtown store, while speaking and writing books part time. And one day I heard a customer call my name from across the isle. I turned around and noticed an older man in a mechanic’s jumpsuit walking towards me. His name tag read, “Steffan.”

    Holy shit.

    He held out his right hand to shake, but averted his eyes. (People with SAD are known to do this when meeting new people.)

    I froze. I didn’t touch his hand. He continued to avoid eye contact.

    “I uh…just wanted to meet you in person.”

    “Oh. Well, cool…but uh, I’m really busy. I have some customers I’m working with, so I gotta get back.”

    “Oh yeah, of course. Well, anyway…nice to meet you. Have a good day Scott.”

    And that was that. He walked out of the store and I never saw or heard from him again.

    * * * *

    Honestly, just thinking about Steffan gives me the creeps. (FYI, his name was changed for anonymity reasons…ironically.) And I know it was a pretty long post, so I’ll finish up in a sec. But this story has so many lessons embedded in it, that I wasn’t sure which one to close with. The value of anonymity? The ease with which the Internet allows people to contact each other? Why people shouldn’t wear nametags 24-7? The seriousness of SAD? The dangers of stalking and victimization?

    I dunno. You pick.


    What can we learn from Steffan’s story?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

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